Apple is reportedly considering killing off iTunes music downloads entirely

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Apple is reportedly considering killing off iTunes music downloads entirely, with two different possible time-tables: one that would end song sales within two years, and another less-aggressive strategy that would see Apple ride out iTunes sales for the next three to four years.

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It's not a question of if but when Apple will phase out its online music store in favor of Apple Music, Apple's year-old streaming music service, Paul Resnikoff for Digital Music News reports, citing sources with active business relationships with Apple.

One possibility is that Apple would phase out iTunes sales in streaming-friendly countries like the United States and UK first before phasing the online store out in "tier 2 and tier 3" countries later.

Greatest moments Apple has had on stage:

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Apple is reportedly considering killing off iTunes music downloads entirely

1. When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the crowd erupted with applause and cheer as he walked back on stage for the first time.

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2. The introduction of the first iMac was a milestone for Apple. It was the first computer that seemed cool and not focused on the enterprise. The crowd ate it up.

(Photo via YouTube)

3. The crowd went nuts when Jobs demonstrated how WiFi works back in 1999.

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4. Jobs showed the world the iPod for the first time at an intimate event in 2001.

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5. Conference attendees went ballistic when apple unveiled the iPhone in 2007.

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6. He even prank called Starbucks on stage and ordered 4000 lattes to show how well phone calls worked on the iPhone.

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7. Apple debuted the iPad in 2010 at half the price most people expected.

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8. One of Jobs' most memorable "one more thing" announcements was the first Facetime demo in 2010.

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9. Jobs perfectly summed up the company's approach to mobile with a simple image of a street sign.

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10. Apple CEO Tim Cook used Jobs' famous "one more thing" line for the first time when he unveiled the Apple Watch.

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11. When Apple bought Beats Electronics for $3 billion last year, Dr. Dre and renowned record executive Jimmy Lovine were brought on as official Apple employees.

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But some within Apple are determined not to let Apple Music undermine its profitable download store, Bloomberg reported earlier this month. The iTunes store reportedly pulls in nearly three times as revenue as Apple Music.

It seems as if there's an internal conflict brewing in Apple's music division, and all signs point to veteran record executive and Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine, a rising power within Apple whose title is simply "Jimmy." iTunes and other online services are overseen by senior vice president Eddy Cue.

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According to Bloomberg, Iovine and other executives from Beats have pushed for Apple to "deemphasize iTunes and plow money into the on-demand streaming service that Beats built."

And when Apple goes to music labels asking to renegotiate its deals, it sounds likely that Iovine will lead that effort. Resnikoff writes:

On that front, top Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine, a longtime fixture Universal Music Group before migrating to Apple Music, could play a key diplomatic role in the termination and transition.

Apple is expected to unveil a big update to Apple Music at its annual developers conference this June.

The whole report is worth a read at Digital Music News.

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